China confirms first ever human case of H7N4 bird flu

Bird flu

Hong Kong has issued a health warning for those travelling to the mainland during the busy Lunar New Year holiday

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) issued an alert yesterday (February 14) as China confirmed the world's first human case of avian influenza A (H7N4).

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Officials in Hong Kong have advised citizens to avoid wet markets, live poultry markets or farms if travelling to the mainland over the week-long lunar new year holiday which starts on Thursday. They also added that travelers should also avoid touching poultry/birds or their droppings and purchasing live or freshly slaughtered poultry. They should strictly observe personal and hand hygiene when visiting any place with live poultry.

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The strain was identified in a 68-year-old woman from the eastern province of Jiangsu who was admitted to hospital after falling ill on December 25 but had since recovered, according to China's National Health and Family Planning Commission. "According to a report from the Chinese centre for disease control and prevention, upon analysis, the genes of the virus were determined to be of avian origin". Hundreds more have died worldwide in subsequent outbreaks, especially of highly-virulent strains like H7N9.

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Since 2013, at least 600 people have died in China and more than 1,500 people have fallen sick as a result of H7N9 bird flu virus. "These viruses have primarily caused mild to moderate illness in people, with symptoms that include conjunctivitis and/or upper respiratory tract symptoms".

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